These days, diet is actually a “serious” dating criteria for me. Not because I’m an elitist health snob, but rather because I want to be with someone who values their own health and wellness. Healthy bodies make for happy and vibrant people! (I’m convinced the day I meet a fellow Paleo intermittent faster gentleman, it shall be love at first site!) But on an even more immediate basis, who you kiss just may influence your health! A 2014 Microbiome study called “Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing,” (love that title!) found out who you kiss, and how often you kiss, plays a role in your mouth’s bacterial microbiome, which influences your health in general.
WHY WE KISS
There are a lot of theories as to why we kiss. Though kissing is often associated with arousal, first kisses may have more to do with ascertaining whether a partner is a good fit in general on a hormonal and genetic level. And while many animals share mouth to mouth contact (a sort of kissing I suppose), french kissing is unique to humans. 90% of human cultures engage in kissing with the tongue. Oh hey! And there’s something a little dirty that goes on with kissing… but in a good way! It has to do with the 700+ species of bacteria calling your mouth home.
THE KISSING STUDY
The 2014 study had 21 couples fill out questionnaires about their kissing habits, and analyzed their oral microbiomes (the composition of their mouth bacteria.) The researchers also performed some “kissing tests”: the couples drank probiotic drinks, engaged in some kissing, and then had their mouth bacteria evaluated.
The study found:
- A 10 second kiss leads to a transfer of around 80 million bacteria!
- Couples who intimately kiss at least 9 times per day, have similar bacteria compositions in their mouth.
- The average time engaged in kissing per day for similar oral micriobomes is ≤ 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Kisses can transfer the good bacterias Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- While some of the bacteria transferred in kissing are transient (they just move on, as it were), some do colonize – setting up shop in your mouth! A nice intimate kiss may lead to a new bacteria colony that hangs around for 2 weeks!
- As an unrelated sidenote, the study also found that 74% of men reported more intimate kissing action in the questionnaires than the women… in the same couples! Men reported an averge of 10 intimate kisses per day, while their partners reported an average of 5. Hmmm….
As the study concludes:
This study indicates that a shared salivary microbiota requires a frequent and recent bacterial exchange and is therefore most pronounced in couples with relatively high intimate kiss frequencies…. Furthermore, our findings imply that some of the collective bacteria among partners are only transiently present, while others have found a true niche on the tongue’s surface allowing long-term colonization.
Who you kiss is between you, that person… and the 80 million little buggers tagging along! When couples in consistent committed relationships begin to mirror each other in various ways – that includes their bacterial composition! Seeing as how 90% of your body’s cells are actually bacteria, this is a pretty big deal. So next time you kiss someone, consider if you’re attracted to them and their bacterial baggage. And when they’ve got the stamp of approval, kiss them at least 9 times per day! For your oral microbiome, of course. #priorities